Devan Dubynk, the Big Easy as some would like to call him or Dubey as I like to call him. The big goalie that has never seemed to get the complete trust from fans to take the team to the next level. He always seems to let in that one goal that can deflate the whole team. But he is capable of making that big save but at times it always seemed too late. Every year he has been in the big leagues he has only gotten better, and with the shorten season last year it gave Dubey a taste of what to expect for the upcoming campaign.
Dubnyk’s first real year was the 2010-11 season, the first year of the rebuild in Edmonton. The roster was full of young players first coming into the NHL and at times would look lost in the defensive zone. He started his career backing up The Bulin Wall Nikolai Khabibulin. It was a rough year to be an Oiler goalie, as they let in 269 goals which ranked them 28th in the league. Khabibulin who shouldered most of the work load that year finished the year with a 3.39 GAA, .891 SV% with a record of 10-32-3. Dubnyk on the other hand finished the year with a 2.71 GAA, .916 SV% and almost finished the season with a .500 record going 12-13-8. The next year Dubey would eventually take over as the starter in Edmonton appearing in 47 games. And all he did with more playing time is continue his growth into a better goalie improving his GAA to 2.67 with a .914 SV% for the year. He finished the season with a record of 20-20-3. This trend then continued into the short next season, Dubey once again would improve his GAA to 2.57, and finish the season with his career best .920 SV%.
Which brings us to the upcoming season, Dubynk’s first full season as a starter in the NHL. This year the Oilers might have the best assembled team they have had since Dubey has been playing in the NHL. And under the guidance of new coach Dallas Eakins the defensive system will improve this year which will help the goaltenders in Edmonton. At times it would seem that the Oilers would spend a whole game in their own end, running around, and constantly out of position. I swear some teams would come into Edmonton and play one of the oldest shinny games on the outdoor rinks here in Alberta, keep away. This year you will see a lot less of that, this team will have different ways to get of their own end by playing a true break out system style of hockey. Dubynk’s career trend is going to continue because of this, but the most improvement we will see from Dubey this year is in the win column.
Dubynk has played in 139 NHL games and has a record of 50-59-19, and let’s not forget that record is playing on arguably one of the worst NHL teams in the last 3 years. Having close to a .500 record starting on the Oilers in my opinion is pretty good. This team has been one of the worst defensive teams in the league. But Dubey has done nothing but improve in one of the worst scenarios for a goalie. Dubey has all the makings of being an elite goaltender in the league. He has size at 6’5” and has a complete calmness to his game when he plays to his full potential. Dubynks biggest downfall in his career has been his lack of focus. There are moments when it looks like nothing can get past the big guy, and then he lets in that softy short side that anybody’s grandfather could of stopped. But I think that lack of focus was a result of the team in front of him. You imagine watching the whole game from inside your own blueline? The frustration would come out and he would lose traction, the team always could sense that and would continue with him on that downhill slope. They would never help him out, they would continue to play like the last place Oilers.
This year will be different, the new look Oilers are going to be a different team inside their zone. The experience that Dubey got last year is only going to help him handle those situations and make him a stronger and more focused goalie. In the NHL the most important job is one of a goalie. They will never score the OT winning goal, but they are expected to win every game they play in. The goalie is expected to be the backbone of the team but at the same time that team in front of that goalie has to perform like a cohesive unit. Something the Oilers have lacked to have consistently. With a better system and with his continuing growth Dubey will take another step forward in his development this year. Will this step be enough to help push the Oilers to the post season? If it’s not it could be Dubeys last season as the Oiler starter, this is his opportunity and there is no better time than now to show the Oiler brass that they have had it right.
I see the Oilers making the post season this year, and Dubey will be one of the biggest reasons for getting the team there. This offseason there was an outcry to bring in Luongo, take a chance with Ilya Bryzgalov. But management staid pat with Dubey and that is also going to drive his hunger to be a better goalie and continue his trend to have another career year. If this team is to make the next step it has to start in goal and the Oilers have their man, that man is Devan Dubynk.